Three-Colored Taffy Balls

Sanshoku Dango

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes

    1 dozen


Appears in

At Home with Japanese Cooking

At Home with Japanese Cooking

By Elizabeth Andoh

Published 1986

  • About

Most traditional Japanese cakes or pastries are made from steamed rice flour. They are soft and chewy, often filled with thick sweet bean paste. Not many Westerners like them—I think it is as much a question of texture as it is of taste. On the other hand, taffy balls with a variety of garnishes are more likely to find Occidental fans. An interesting variation can be had by roasting ungarnished taffy balls as you would marshmallows at a campfire. Drizzle the roasted taffy balls with honey and sprinkle with black sesame seeds.


Taffy Balls

  • cup jōshinko (fine rice flour)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup warm water


  • 1 tablespoon kinako (soy flour)
  • ½ tablespoon brown sugar
  • Pinch of powdered cinnamon
  • ½ tablespoon black sesame seeds
  • ½ tablespoon sugar


Combine the rice flour, 1 tablespoon sugar and salt in a bowl. Add the warm water, a little at a time, and mix well. Gather the dough into a smooth, though sticky, ball. Pinch into 6 or 7 smaller balls and place them on a damp cloth lining the rack of your steamer. Steam the balls for 25 minutes.

Remove the steamed balls on their damp cloth and transfer them to a board. Dampen another cloth and wrap it around your hand. Punch and knead the hot taffy balls until they form one smooth, satiny mass (about 5 minutes). If your hands are as sensitive to heat as mine are, you’ll want to wet your hand cloth in cold water several times (being careful to wring out all excess water) during the kneading. Divide the kneaded taffy into 12 small perfectly round balls.

Mix well the soy flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.

In a heavy skillet, dry roast the black sesame seeds ( for details). Mix with the ½ tablespoon sugar in another small bowl.

While they are still warm, roll 4 of the taffy balls in the soy and brown sugar mixture and 4 of them in the black sesame mixture.

On each of 4 short bamboo skewers, place 1 black, 1 white and 1 brown ball. Serve them at room temperature within 24 hours. It is not a good idea to refrigerate the taffy because it gets crusty and hard. However, that’s all right if you plan to roast them later (in which case don’t add the final garnishes).